The appointment of Sajid Javid as the new health secretary is akin to ‘putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop’ given his record on austerity, Labour has said.
Speaking to the BBC yesterday, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the NHS entered the Covid-19 crisis ‘on the back of 10 years of underfunding’ and staff shortages, adding that Sajid Javid, as chancellor, ‘was responsible for that’.
He said the austerity has now, in part, led to 5.1 million people on waiting lists, over 300,000 people waiting a year for treatment, delayed cancer treatment and young people struggling to access mental healthcare.
Sajid Javid was appointed health secretary following the resignation of his predecessor Matt Hancock, who stepped down after photos were leaked of him kissing an aide.
In his interview, Mr Ashworth said: ‘We have to really start focusing now on delivering the quality care that patients deseve.
‘‘Is he [Mr Javid] actually going to battle for the investment that the NHS needs given that he was cutting healthcare when he was in the treasury?’
Mr Ashworth added: ‘The NHS entered this crisis on the back of 10 years of underfunding, cutbacks, losing beds, and shortages of staff. And Sajid Javid was responsible for that. He was a treasury minister. He was a leading advocate for and an architect of the austerity that has afflicted the NHS in the last 10 years, which has weakened it.
‘Making him the health secretary, given his record as an architect of austerity, is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.’
In the same year, the King’s Fund reported that around £3.2bn was spent on total public health in England in the 2019/20 budget, a drop from the £3.3bn the previous year.
Last summer, prime minister Boris Johnson pledged that his government would ‘not go back to the austerity of 10 years ago’.